Fr John Edwards SJ passed away on 12 December 2012, shortly after being with his Jesuit brothers for the Community Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He had been seriously ill since before September. Fr John was 83 years old, in the 59th year of Religious Life, and the 49th year of priesthood. He lived at the Jesuit Community at Mount St for 32 years.
John Christopher Edwards was born at Bexhill-on-Sea on 2 June 1929 and was educated by the Benedictines at Ampleforth College and at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, which he entered at the age of 13. He served in the Royal Navy from 1946, serving for a time in the Korean War and achieving the rank of Lieutenant.
On leaving the Navy, John entered Campion House, Osterley (1953) and was admitted to the Society of Jesus the following year. He studied philosophy and theology at Heythrop College in Oxfordshire and, after his ordination in 1964, at the Bellarmino in Rome. Having served his tertianship at St Beuno's in Wales, Fr Edwards was made assistant to the Tertianship Director in 1968, before being appointed to the parish of St Mary's on the Quay in Bristol.
For seven years from 1970, Fr Edwards directed the Spiritual Exercises - first at Loyola Hall on Merseyside, then at St Gabriel's Retreat House in Birmingham and finally at Southwell House in London - after which he was appointed to St Patrick's parish in Wapping, East London, where he served as parish priest for two years.
In 1980, Fr Edwards joined the Mount Street Jesuit Community, working with the Jesuit Missions team and serving in Farm Street Church. During this time, he became a renowned confessor, leading people to pray and directing missions. He also wrote several books - especially about prayer, including Ways of Praying and The Gospels for Prayer.
Fr Andrew Cameron-Mowat SJ, the parish priest at Farm Street Church said: 'Fr John was greatly loved by an enormous number of people. His dynamic preaching and his mission work will live long in the memory of all who met him. He brought numerous people into the Church … He was a remarkable example of a faithful and compassionate priest and a generous Companion of Jesus.'
The Requiem Mass for Fr Edwards will take place on Thursday, 20 December at 11am at Farm Street Church.